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Good­bye to Win­dows XP

Daily Trust - - ITWORLD -

Ef­fec­tive mid­night of 8 April 2014 wher­ever you lived, the sun set on Win­dows XP, as Mi­crosoft turned off the lights on this durable 12-year old op­er­at­ing sys­tem (OS) for desk­tops and lap­tops. (An op­er­at­ing sys­tem is the dig­i­tal en­gine that ini­ti­ates pro­cesses and co­or­di­nates the over­all op­er­a­tions of com­put­ers and smart­phones and the ap­pli­ca­tions that run on them.) No, it isn’t that Win­dows XP will im­me­di­ately stop work­ing! It’s that Mi­crosoft will stop sup­port­ing the OS. This means that there will no longer be se­cu­rity patches and up­dates to pro­tect the OS from viruses, mal­ware, and other threats. Thus, the OS will no longer be a safe place to work and play. This event can rep­re­sent a very se­ri­ous prob­lem, even po­ten­tial cri­sis, be­cause many es­sen­tial ser­vices, such as those car­ried out by banks, util­ity com­pa­nies, wa­ter and sewage treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties, and ATMs, to men­tion a few, are still be­ing car­ried out on PCs run­ning XP.

I like the “eu­logy” that Joanna Stern gave in the 18 March 2014 is­sue of the Wall Street Jour­nal: “The de­fault back­ground for Win­dows XP op­er­at­ing sys­tem—a per­fect blue sky full of cot­ton-candy clouds above rolling hills with im­pec­ca­bly trimmed grass and daf­fodils—is the spring day we wish could last for­ever. And fit­tingly, many people wish the op­er­at­ing sys­tem would last just as long. In­tro­duced in 2001, Win­dows XP be­came so suc­cess­ful that Mi­crosoft ex­tended its sup­port for an in­dus­try record of 12 years. Yet come April 8, XP’s sunny day is over.” The serene and peace­ful de­fault wall­pa­per of XP (shown in the pic­ture be­low) can keep your spirit at ease and ex­tend your life a few notches.

XP is still very much in use, to the tune of 300 mil­lion com­put­ers by some es­ti­mates. This rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately 28 per­cent of all desk­top/lap­top PCs in use to­day. The cor­re­spond­ing fig­ures for Win­dows 7, Win­dows 8, Win­dows 8.1, and Mac Os X10.9 are, re­spec­tively, 49%, 6.4%, 4.9%, and 3.8%. You can see that even though iPad is the king of smart­phones, Ap­ple barely ex­ists in the world of PCs and lap­tops, with a mea­ger 3.8%. The leading PC/lap­top ven­dors as of the first quar­ter of 2014 are Len­ovo (13%), Hewlett-Packard (12.3%), Dell (9.5%), Acer (5.6%) and Asus (5.3%).

So, what pre­cau­tions should you take? For sure, if you ac­cess the web via cy­ber cafes, you should avoid us­ing com­put­ers that run XP, sim­ply be­cause they are no longer pro­tected against new viruses and ma­li­cious codes. Un­for­tu­nately, the older com­puter sys­tems, par­tic­u­larly the XP, pre­vail in most cy­ber cafes, say, in Nigeria. So, to be fore­warned is to be fore­armed! Fail­ure to heed this piece

Aof ad­vice may in­deed be fa­tal, as your medium (drives) can catch viruses and be ren­dered to­tally use­less quite eas­ily.

You have a few op­tions at your dis­posal, if you have your own PC or lap­top that runs XP. Ob­vi­ously, Mi­crosoft wants you to move to Win­dows 8.1, the lat­est ver­sion of Win­dows that was re­leased also on 8 April 2014. (Win­dows 8.1 was partly the sub­ject of the past cou­ple of ar­ti­cles in this col­umn in Daily Trust.) Win­dows 8.1, whose in­ter­face is shown in the pic­ture be­low, cor­rects some of the prob­lems (in Win­dows 8) that had dis­cour­aged businesses and con­sumers from mov­ing to the lat­ter ver­sion of the OS. lot of wa­ter has passed un­der the bridge in go­ing from Win­dows XP to Win­dows 8.1. We’ve had Vista, Win­dows 7, Win­dows 8, and now Win­dows 8.1. So, there might be ad­just­ment prob­lems mov­ing straight from Win­dows XP to Win­dows 8.1. Win­dows 7 has been very sta­ble and it has the ba­sic look-and-feel of XP, and so it would be the eas­i­est to move to. How­ever, I am hes­i­tant to en­cour­age Win­dows 7 for sev­eral rea­sons: 1) the OS it­self is get­ting old and may soon be phased out, 2) com­put­ers run­ning Win­dows 7 are not easy to come by these days, 3) you will even­tu­ally have to move away from Win­dows 7 any­way, and 4) you need to “get with the pro­gram” and tran­si­tion to a mod­ern op­er­at­ing sys­tem, with touch-friendly in­ter­face. With the fea­tures of Win­dows 7 brought back in Win­dows 8.1, my sug­ges­tion is that you take the plunge and move straight on to Win­dows 8.1, by buy­ing a new hard­ware with this OS pre-in­stalled. Of course, there will be some learn­ing curve, but it’s not go­ing to be too steep. So, you might just dive in and get rid of your fear, with ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion in terms of read­ing up on the new OS.

Big businesses and govern­ment es­tab­lish­ments have a tougher job cut out for them be­cause of the sheer num­ber of PCs in­volved in their op­er­a­tions and the crit­i­cal­ity of the ser­vices that those com­put­ers ren­der. They could ei­ther fol­low the piece of ad­vice I gave above, which is go­ing to cost them, or do what the South Korean govern­ment is plan­ning to do: “The Korea In­ter­net & Se­cu­rity Agency, the state body in charge of man­ag­ing the coun­try’s do­mains and IP ad­dresses, said it will step in and re­lease free anti-virus soft­ware that will con­tinue to cover Win­dows XP.” This great ges­ture of the Korean govern­ment is ob­vi­ously an in­terim mea­sure!

The bot­tom line in this ar­ti­cle is that Mi­crosoft has stopped sup­port­ing Win­dows XP, mak­ing the op­er­at­ing sys­tem quite vul­ner­a­ble to viruses and other ma­li­cious codes.

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